“Crazy Trump, don’t think that everything is over with my father’s martyrdom”, Zeinab Soleimani said, in an address broadcast on state television as her father’s casket was displayed in Tehran during a ceremony that can only be described as breathtaking in terms of sheer grandiosity.
Millions turned out on Sunday as the fallen general’s body made its way across the country, and Monday’s proceedings were every bit as imposing.
Zeinab warned the United States of a “dark day” to come in retribution for her father’s death. Unlike the interview which aired only on a Hezbollah-linked satellite station over the weekend, her speech on Monday was carried by outlets the world over.
Khamenei, flanked by Hassan Rouhani, wept and led prayers at Tehran University. Turnout for the proceedings was estimated to be at least in the hundreds of thousands, if not in the millions.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh was present, making his first trip to Iran since taking the helm two years ago.
Trump on Sunday doubled down on threats to target Iranian cultural sites in the event the IRGC seeks retribution for their slain commander. If Trump were to make good on those threats, he would be guilty of war crimes, something he appeared to dismiss as irrelevant during remarks to reporters aboard Air Force One.
Mike Pompeo promised the US would “act lawfully”, contrary to the president’s bombastic tweets, and equally inflammatory Sunday harangue, during which Trump also threatened to force Iraq to reimburse the US for the cost of an air base.
“The prospect of an assault on sites like the ancient ruins of Persepolis or the immaculately tiled porticos of Esfahan’s 500-year old Naqshe Jahan Square triggered an immediate backlash across Iran, transcending the country’s deep political divisions”, Bloomberg notes.
Among the pictures posted to Khamenei’s official website was the following image which depicts Brigadier General Esmail Ghaani, the newly-appointed commander of the Quds, weeping over Soleimani’s casket.
“God the almighty has promised to get his revenge, and God is the main avenger”, he said, during an interview on state television Sunday. “Certainly actions will be taken”.
Yes, “certainly”, but the strategic problem for Iran is that Soleimani was the vengeance. He was judge, jury and executioner. The Quds (and by extension, their proxies) are for the time being some semblance of rudderless other than being united in a shared sense of outrage and general purpose.
Like his legendary predecessor, Ghaani is a veteran of the horrific Iran-Iraq war, which he self-evidently survived. He joined the Quds shortly after its creation.
Experts say his record simply doesn’t stack up to that of Soleimani’s legend. “Ghaani war-era record does not display the same degree of distinction as Soleimani’s”, Ali Alfoneh, a senior fellow at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington and author of “Iran Unveiled: How the Revolutionary Guards are Transforming Iran from Theocracy Into Military Dictatorship”, told The Washington Post last week.
“The families of the American soldiers in West Asia who have witnessed America’s cruel wars in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Yemen and Palestine will be spending their days waiting for the news of the death of their children”, Soleimani’s daughter Zeinab declared on Monday, during a chilling address to tens of thousands of Iranians clutching pictures of her father.
Soleimani will be buried Tuesday in a simple funeral near his southeastern hometown of Kerman, as per his wishes.